MOSTFRAN-L ArchivesArchiver > MOSTFRAN > 2004-04 > 1081958827
From: Judy Oldziewski <>
Subject: Founding families of Nashville, TN
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004 09:07:07 -0700
This was posted on another list and I have permission to pass it on.
Thought it might be of interest to this list.
Founding Families in Nashville, Tennessee, 1779-80
Probably little known beyond TN was the unique celebration of America's
Bicentenary in 1976 through the reenactment of the overland and river
from upper East Tennessee to the Cumberland River Bluffs in Middle
Tennessee, where Nashville was founded in 1779/80. Nashville writer and
historian, Katherine [Mrs. Mel Jr.] Barnes, conceived the idea,
local author, Alfred Leland Crabb's 1957 historical novel, Journey to
Nashville. Mr.. and Mrs. Barnes researched and retraced both the
and river journeys during 1972-75, then secured the support of the
Scenic Rivers Association, the Tennessee American Revolution
Commission, and the Sullivan County Historical Society in Kingsport for
recreation of the two historical passages in the summer of 1976.
Nashvillians joining Katherine Barnes to plan the mini-flotilla voyage
James I. "Buddy" Caldwell III, Allan Bass and Don Patterson Barnes [
oversaw building of the three flatboats-- Adventure II, Rachel, and
Charlotte--in November, 1975 at Rock Harbor Marina near Nashville]. Mel
Barnes Jr. planned the overland trek.
The flotilla's river voyage from Netherland Inn at Kingsport, where they
embarked June 6, to the replica of Fort Nashborough on Nashville's
Cumberland River Bluffs, where they arrived August 7, 1976, was
enthusiastically applauded by observers all along the 1006 miles voyage.
Seeing the volunteer-pioneers aboard the wooden vessels carried by the
river's swift currents [with the modern advantage of flood control by
dams] was probably the closest any contemporary citizen could come to
understanding the magnitude of that dangerous, death-attended voyage to
the western frontier [of North Carolina at that time] in late 1779 and
1780. As Theodore Roosevelt described the voyage of John Donelson and
party down the Tennessee River, and up the Cumberland, is one of the
thrilling in history. In its political and historical consequences, it
one of the eventful occasions in the life of this nation, being equal in
importance to the settlement of Jamestown or the landing at Plymouth
Following is the recorded list of pioneer/founding families aboard the
of 30 flatboats and several pirogues that arrived April 24, 1780, at the
almost completed upper or central station on the Cumberland Bluffs.
them were General James Robertson's overland party of men, boys, and
livestock, which had arrived at French Lick in December, 1779, and
the frozen Cumberland River on Christmas Day to establish an outpost of
John Donelson, Sr.; Rachel Stockley Donelson; Rachel Donelson; 3 sister;
John Donelson Jr. and Family; William Donelson, Jacob Donelson; Severn
Donelson; Leven Donelson; Samuel Donelson; Able Gower Sr. & wife; Abel
Jr; Nancy Gower; Mr. ___ Stuart; Reuben Harrison; Frank Haynie [aka
Thomas Henry; Capt. Jno Blackmore [aka Blackemore and Blakemore]; Maj.
John Gibson; Andrew Lucas; Susan Drake; Frederick Stump; Ann S. Stump;
Frederick Stump Jr; M. Rounsever [aka Rounsifer and Rounsaval] & family;
Robertson Johnson, widow, and her three daughters; William Crutchfield &
family; Robert Cartwright & family; Jonathan Jennings and family;
[Frank] Armstrong & family; James Johns Sr & family; Benjamin Porter &
family; Solomon Temple & family; John Montgomery & family; Jesse Maxwell
family; John Caffrey & family; Mary Purnell & family; Haydon Wells; Amos
Eaton; Thomas Hutchings; Benjamin Belew; Peter Looney [aka Luney]; Hugh
Rogan; Daniel Givin; Charlotte Robertson & family; John White; Solomon
White; Sol Turpin; Joseph Renfro & family; Moses Renfro & family; Isaac
Neely & family; John Cotton & family; Isaac Lanier & family; Mary Henry
family; James Cain & family; John Boyd & family; Daniel Dunham & family.
Names listed on the bronze tablet erected by the Watauga Cumberland
Association to commemorate the Landing of the Pioneers, April 24, 1780,
Note to researchers: please bear in mind that the above listing provides
only one source for tracking down Nashville's founding families.
has marvelous research facilities in all five major cities, and
in the Tennessee State Library & Archives in Nashville.
[ http://www.tennessee.gov/sos/statelib/tslahome.htm ]. Exceptional
resources are now available through USGENWEB online, with electronic
for each state. Tennessee has links for those "active" sites in our 95
counties--i.e. Davidson County's URL is
[ http://www.rootsweb.com/~tndavids/nashgene,htm ] and a productive site
pre-voyage [1779-80] families is the Sullivan County link
[ http://www.tngenweb.org/sullivan.htm ]
Another fascinating exercise in sleuthing "Founding Families" is to
old history books for any 'random' mention of pioneer families, such as
Kentucky-native Harriette Simpson Arnow's 1960 "Seedtime on the
Her book [as well as it's companion volume," Flowering of the
1963, is devoted to Middle Tennessee frontier culture and abounds with
meticulous research and footnotes. Arnow's text is liberally laced with
names of pioneers who arrived at French Lick/ Big Salt/ Nashborough at
same time or on the heels of the Robertson and Donelson parties in
Considering how many intrepid settlers lost their lives during 1780-83,
these hardy civilization-builders should, indeed, be termed "Founding
Father's": Catherine Lefever, widow of Isaac Lefever; David Gwinn; John
Buchanan Sr., wife and three sons: Samuel, Alexander and John; Mrs.
Peyton [killed]; Hugh Henry Sr; Daniel Chambers; Cornelius and Jane
Mulherrin Ruddle; John and James Mulherrin with their families; Sampson
Daniel Williams; William and Benjamin Drake; Hugh F. Bell; Phillip
Nicholas & Philip Tramel; Thomas Thompson; Anthony Bledsoe; Humphrey
Thomas & Josiah Ramsey; Major Thomas Hickman; Thomas Spencer; Hugh &
Leeper [aka Leiper] and John Turnbull. Many of these surnames survive
in names of waterways, roads, towns and even counties.
Another valuable resource for those tracking Nashville's founding
A.W. Putnam's 1859 History of Middle Tennessee or, Life and Times of
James Robertson [reprinted in 1971 by the State Tennessee Historical
Commission and the University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville]. Excerpted
this volume is a brief, paraphrased synopsis of Robertson's overland
from Watauga to the French Lick, followed by the listing of 249 males
signing the "Articles of Agreement" or "Compact of Government"-
known as the Cumberland Compact.--On May 13, 1780.
Before the close of February, 1779, James Robertson, William Neely,
Freeland, Edward Swanson, James Hanley, Mark Robertson, Zachariah White,
William Overhall [aka Overall] set out from Watauga in western North
Carolina [present upper east Tennessee] for the French Lick on the
Cumberland River [now Nashville]. A Negro man made up the ninth member
the party. Soon after they reached their destination, they were joined
another small company under the leadership of Casper Mansker. After
preparations for a crop and planting corn seed, three of the men;
White and Swanson--were left to keep the buffaloes out of the
fields" and the rest returned to Watauga to prepare their families for
removal to French Lick. James Robertson did not immediately return to
Watauga, but detoured to Illinois to see General Rogers Clark, who as
agent of Virginia was dispensing 'Cabin rights' on very favorable terms.
Robertson thought it possible that when the line between Virginia and
Carolina was run it would throw the new Cumberland River settlement in
Virginia. Thus he wished to secure titles and eliminate any future
complications over ownership. After making provisional arrangements with
General Clark, Robertson returned to his family to prepare for the
relocation to the Cumberland Settlement.
By the first of November, 1779, James Robertson left 200-300 'movers',
of horseback and some on foot, to be led toward the western frontier to
prepare for the later arrival of the party's women and children, to be
over waterways by John Donelson. Robertson's brothers, Mark and John,
in the party, as well as his oldest son, 11 year old Jonathan, who drove
sheep. Edmund Jennings, 25 years old, held rear guard to keep an eye on
flocks and herds. The men joined enroute by John Rains and a number of
friends, who then decided to settle at French Lick, rather than in
The end of the journey was not reached until Christmas, due to delays
by the winter described as " the coldest one that has been known in the
history of this country".
The settlers who remained on the east die of the Cumberland and built
themselves cabins connected by stockades were: Frederick Stump Sr., Amos
Eaton, Haydon Wells, Isaac Roundsever, William Loggins, and ___ Winters.
place was called Eaton's Station. The majority of the party crossed over
river, the ice being strong enough to sustain not merely the men, but
the 17 horses, 19 cows, and two steers of the "provident John Rains."
next day, Rains picked out his 1000 acres on land of the waters of
Creek. Freeland and a few others soon erected cabins at the bluff of
Cumberland River. [over the following year, there were as many as eight
stations-- [see listing in Cumberland Compact text, within a 20 mile
of the bluff]. To this nucleus of French Lick settlement arrived
flotilla of 30 flatboats and several pirogues on Monday, April 24, 1780.
On May 1, 1780, the " Articles of Agreement or Compact of Government"
popularly knows as the Cumberland Compact- was drawn up, with additional
resolutions of May 13, 1780. Names of 249 males were signed,
those buying land from Richard Henderson and Company under the Watauga
purchase of 1775. Although this interesting document is probably the
equivalent to a 'Written record' of the founding families, according to
Arnow in 'Seedtime on the Cumberland', page 243, " equally interesting
the number of known settlers who DID NOT sign: these included; John
Sr and Jr. Edward Swanson, William & Isaac Neely...neither John Rains
Edmund Jennings signed". With that stipulation noted, the 249 males
represented the eighth stations of Nashborough, Gasper's, Bledsoe's,
Asher's, Stones Rive, Freeland's, Eaton's, and Fort Union, and are as
follows: Richard Henderson, Samuel Deson, David Shelton, Nathaniel Hart,
Samuel Marten, Spill Coleman, Wm. H. Moore, James Buchanan, Samuel
Samuel Phariss, Solomon Turpin, P. [Pleasant] Henderson, John Donelson,
Isaac Rentfro, Edward Bradley, Gasper Mansker, Robert Cartwright, Edward
Bradley Jr, John Caffery, Hugh Rogan, James Bradley, John Blakemore Sr.
Joseph Morton, Michael Stoner, John Armstrong, Thomas Hendricks, W.
Jr., Robert Lucas, John Holladay, Hugh Simpson, James Robertson,
Stump-in Dutch, Samuel Moore, George Freeland, Joseph Denton, James
Freeland, William Hood, Arthur McAdoo, John Tucker, John Boyd, James
Peter Catron, Jacob Stump, Nathaniel Henderson, Mereday Rains, Harmon
Consellea, Patrick Quigley, Richard Dodge, Philip Catron, Henry Hardin,
Evans, Francis Catron, Richard Stanton, Wm. Bailey Smith, John Dunham,
Sampson Sawyers, Peter Luney, Isaac Johnson, John Hobson, John Luney,
Kelar, Ralph Wilson, James Cain, Thomas Burgess, James Givens, Daniel
Johnson, William Burgess, James Harrod, Daniel Jarrot, William Green,
Buchanan Sr., Jesse Maxey, Moses Webb, William Geioch, Noah Hawthorn,
Absalom Thomson, Robert Espey, Matthew Anderson, Charles Thomson, George
Espey, Wm. McWhirter, Robert Thomson, William Gowen[ or Gower], Barnet
Hainey, Martin Hardin, John Wilfort, Richard Sims, Elijah Thomson, James
Espey, Titus Murray, Andrew Thomson, Michael Kimberlin, James Hamilton,
William Seaton, John Cowan, Henry Dougherty, Edward Thomson, Francis
Zach.White, Isaac Drake, William Fleming, Burgess White, Jonathan
James Leeper, William Calley, Zachariah Green, George Leeper, James Ray,
Andrew Lucas, Daniel Mungle, William Ray, James Patrick [his mark],
McCuthcen, Perley Grimes, Samuel McCutchen, Samuel White, Richard Gross,
William Price, Daniel Hogan, John Drake, Henry Kerbey, Thomas Hines,
Turner, Joseph Jackson, Robert Goodloe, Timothy Feret, Daniel Ragsdell,
Thomas W. Alston, Isaac Lefever, Michael Shaver, William Barrett, Thomas
Fletcher, Samuel Wilson, Thomas Shannon, Samuel Barton, John Reid,
Moore,James Ray, Joseph Dougherty, Richard Moore, Thomas Denton, Charles
Cameron, Samuel Moore, Elijah Moore, Isaac Rounsavall, John Cordry, John
Moore, James Crockett, Nicholas Tramel, Andrew Ewin, Andrew Crockett,
Wells, Ebenezer Titus, Russell Gower, Daniel Ratletf, Mark Robertson,
Shannon, John Callaway, John Montgomery, David Shannon, John Pleake,
Campbell, Jonathan Drake, Willis Pope, Wiliam Evrall, Benjamin Drake,
Harlon, John Turner, John Drake, Hugh Leeper, Humphrey Hogan, Josiah
James Green, James Foster, Samuel Newell, James Cooke, William Morris,
Joseph Read, Donaile Johnston, Nicholas Bidlack, David Maxwell, George
Miner, A. Tatom, Thomas Jefriss, George Green, Wiliam Hinson, Joseph
Dunnagin, William More, Edmund Newton, John Phelps, Jacob Cimberlin,
Jonathan Green, Andrew Bushoney, Robert Dockety, John Phillips, Daniel
Ragsdell, John Crown, George Flynn, John McMurty, William Sumners,
Jarrott,d'd?, Williams, Losois Frize [Dutch?], John Owens, John
James Freeland, Samson Williams, Thomas Malloy, Thomas Thompson, Amd's
Maudlin, Isaac Lindsay, Martin King, Morton Mauldin, Isaac Bledsoe,
Logan, John Dunham, Jacob Castleman, John Alstead, Archelaus Allaway,
Power, Nicholas Counrod, Samuel Hayes, James Lynn, Evin Evins, Isaac
Johnson, Thomas Cox, Jonathan Evins, Thomas Edmeston [Edmondson], Edward
Lucas, John Thomas, Ezekiel Norris, Philip Alston, Joshua Thomas,
Purcell, James Russell, David Rounsavall and William McMurray.
At one time all of above was listed online at one time. May still be????
I am sure that any one descended from one of the above men could use the
Compact they signed as proof of them being in TN at that date for any
organization they wish to become a member of in the genealogy field.
you believe your ancestor to have 'lived elsewhere else' in TN,
they arrived in TN some place and time and this may be the place where
entered TN. I have NO more information than I have typed here. Check
the reference librarian to see if they can find a copy for lending on
inter-library system for more information.
|Founding families of Nashville, TN by Judy Oldziewski <>|